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Monday, July 28, 2014
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Published: Monday, 2/25/2013

9th annual Seed Swap in Toledo nourishes solid crop of gardeners

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cousins Becky Degnan of Toledo, center, holding a cup, and JoAnn Riley of Sylvania search for flower seeds at the ninth annual Seed Swap at Woodward High School in Toledo on Saturday. Cousins Becky Degnan of Toledo, center, holding a cup, and JoAnn Riley of Sylvania search for flower seeds at the ninth annual Seed Swap at Woodward High School in Toledo on Saturday.
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Spring came early on Saturday to a North Toledo school where about 1,000 gardeners and volunteers ushered in the growing season during an annual seed swap event.

Seeds, seedlings, gardening tools, and books were distributed for three hours at Woodward High School during the Toledo GROWs’ ninth annual Seed Swap, sponsored by Toledo Botanical Garden.

“The swap is a wonderful gathering that serves not only the Toledo GROWs community gardeners, but all home and backyard gardeners in the city and surrounding area,” said Dani Kusner, manager of Toledo GROWs, Toledo Botanical Garden’s community garden program. GROWs is an acroymn for Gardens Revitalize Our World.

Stefanie Stauffer, 32, an urban farmer and food entrepreneur from Ypsilanti, Mich., who attended the event, agreed.

PHOTO GALLERY: 9th annual Toledo GROWS Seed Swap

“This is my third year in a row at the Seed Swap and I’ve been bringing different people every year, trying to spread the word about this amazing event,” Ms. Stauffer said. “There’s so much of seeds and of people. And it’s also such a vibrant crowd.”

She was not the only one who appeared excited, with many in the milling crowd sporting smiles.

“I’ve been a regular from the start,” said Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, holding up five tickets. “This is like a season opener for gardeners. I am excited to see it getting bigger every year.”

Woodward students and Young Women of Excellence members Talliyah Green, left, and Myra Stallion help Eileen Suplica of Toledo sort donated seed packets. Woodward students and Young Women of Excellence members Talliyah Green, left, and Myra Stallion help Eileen Suplica of Toledo sort donated seed packets.
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Mr. Gerken said he was planning to get broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, and spinach seeds, among others, noting that his family grows a lot of its own vegetables to share with others.

“I am really excited about this event because our gardens have a purpose and our guests work in the gardens and it gives them a sense of self-worth,” said Shawn Kellerbauer, 48, of Toledo, a link manager for Cherry Street Mission who picked up seeds for the shelter’s two resident-maintained gardens on 17th Street and Madison Avenue.

Mr. Kellerbauer said shelter residents grow both vegetables and flowers in the gardens — the former for salads, the latter for table decorations. His seed pickups included heirloom beans, hybrid broccoli, sunflower, mustard greens, bush beans, collards, cauliflower, sweet corn, and beets.

Most distributed seeds were donated by seed companies, said Karen Ranney Wolkins, botanical garden executive director. She said she expected attendance this year to exceed last year’s estimated 800, not counting about 75 adult volunteers and about 50 Woodward High students who participated. Those who brought nothing to swap received five tickets, each good for a seed packet. Those who brought viable seeds in packages, bulbs, house plants, or books were given bonus tickets. Beyond that, every ticket was 50 cents.

Ms. Ranney Wolkins said the botanical garden spent about $750 on the event, about $125 of which was paid to the school. The rest was used for promotion and supplies.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.



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